Updated: Apr 4, 2022
I have always appreciated the power of massage therapy. In theatre school, I was trained in various dance and movement techniques, yoga and connecting with your scene partner through emotional and physical connection. It was not a huge leap to become interested in massage as a tool for connection and healing.
In my late teens and throughout my twenties, I tended to move around a lot, packing up heavy boxes and hauling them around to whatever new adventure I was on. This led to lower back issues and arthritis as I got older. To get treatment for the tightness in my lower back, I turned to massage therapy. Throughout the sessions I had, I became aware of what it felt like to release the tension, and the difference between carrying around that tightness and the contrast of having more range of movement and less pain.
Being an actor does not always lead to financial security, and I’m no exception. So as a means of finding a way of supporting myself, I felt it was time to attend massage school and to become a therapist myself. In 2005, I was living in Chicago and made the leap to attend the, now defunct, Chicago School of Massage Therapy. I loved working through the routine of a Swedish Massage and learning the muscles and anatomy of the body. Unfortunately, 2005 was a rough year for me and I lost my father. So I made the decision to withdraw from school and deal with my loss.
I never lost my passion for massage, however. In the years that followed, I continued to get professional massages as needed and when I could afford them. In 2018, my focus shifted from live stage acting to voice acting. I loved it, and I made the very bold decision to go to Los Angeles for a trial run in voice acting and I was also excepted into the famous Groundling improve training program and spent several months training online and meeting in person. But there was this nagging feeling I had—this missing piece. I still wanted to be a massage therapist. It had been weighing on me for over 15 years. I know I was passionate about it and I knew I could be successful, so in addition to everything else, I looked for a massage school in Southern California and settled on the Southern California Health Institute (SOCHI). But, my financial situation was not in my favor, and, deflated, I returned to Houston, knowing that I simply could not afford to live in Los Angeles.
After giving myself time to regroup and let my emotional wounds heal, I was resolved more than ever to become a massage therapist. It’s not hard in reading this essay, to see I have anxiety. But if, I’m anything, I’m resilient. I became so passionate about wanting to be a massage therapist because in everything I’ve been through, I know that the massage work I’ve had has helped me deal with my anxiety, pain, tension, and my overall health.
COVID-19 made me aware that most people deal with the same issues I do, and lockdown brought it all to the forefront. I want to help people the same way I have been helped. Yes, I love acting and theatre and none of that will ever go away. But as I grow older and hopefully a little wiser, I realize that I have as mush of a passion to help people and connect with them as a therapist as I have had performing. Honestly, my acting training brought down this road. We never know what journey we will take in life, but I have learned to listen to that deep gut feeling, many will call a calling. I feel called to be a massage therapist.
I won't end my story there; when I returned to Houston and made the decision to return to massage school, I had to choose a training program. So, I interviewed and visited (and got a massage) at every school in the area. Avalon was the clear winner. The curriculum you offer was what attracted me, but the people and the support I feel here is what made me make the final decision. Thank you for all of your love and support, for not only me, but all of the students at Avalon.
If you are an Avalon student interested in applying for the Dr. Sophie Rydin Scholarship, please click here.